Former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik calls for resolution of Kashmir issue; would play a mediatory role

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The Embassy of Pakistan Washington DC today hosted a Webinar to mark 3rd “Youm-e-Istehsal” (The Day of Exploitation), the day when BJP-led Indian government in 2019 took unilateral and illegal actions in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) to alter the special status of area and change the demographic character of J&K by converting Muslim majority into a minority.
The panelist included former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Deputy Leader of the House of Commons UK MP Afzal Khan, Ms. Shamim Shawl, Lord Wajid Khan and Kashmiri American Mr. Rizwan Kadir.

Former Prime Minister of Norway Kjell Magne Bondevik stressed upon the need for resolving the issue of Jammu & Kashmir. He recalled his mediatory efforts in 2019 which included his visit to India, Srinagar, Muzzafarabad and Islamabad. He said it was a rare visit of international statesman to Srinagar. He believed that such diplomatic efforts must be sustained to explore a formula acceptable to all. He said that he will send an appeal to UN Secretary General to highlight the urgency of the issue.
“It is high time and urgent to initiate new political efforts which can pave the way for a ceasefire and for peace. The United Nations should feel a responsibility, and I also will appeal to my friend, Secretary General Antonio Guterres to take such an initiative,” Mr. Bondevik said.

He appealed to the Indian Government for release of Kashmiri leader Mr. Mohammad Yasin Malik.

Addressing the Webinar, Ambassador Masood Khan said that the developments that took place on 05 August 2019 continue to cast their shadow over the fate of the Kashmiris and peace and security in South Asia.

He emphasized that India should revisit and retract its unilateral and illegal steps; Kashmiris’ right to self-determination be respected by all and space be created for multilateral diplomacy and tripartite dialogue.

“The United Nations should take a fresh initiative, engage on the subject and the permanent members of the Security Council should take cognizance of the situation lest this dispute should become a blind spot for international security of international community”, said Ambassador Masood Khan.

Senator Mushahid Hussain highlighted that 15,000 political prisoners have been incarcerated since August 5 2019. Pointing out a loss of $5.3 billion to the economy and half of a million jobs lost, Senator Mushahid said that 4 million people domicile have been given to outsiders in IIoJK and 1.2 million people have been added to the voters list. “There is insidious design to transform the demographic balance of Indian occupied Kashmir and make the Muslim majority into a minority.”

He said that Modi government has ideological agenda of Muslim bashing at home and Pakistan bashing abroad which, he said, was a threat to regional peace and security.

Afzal Khan, Deputy Leader in the House of Commons UK pointed out that discrimination against minorities and hate speech have become normalized and institutionalized in India. He also expressed his serious concerns over the recent actions by Indian government to close trusts and incarceration of political activists. Mr. Khan stressed upon the need for implementation of UN resolutions and holding plebiscite in the area.

Ms. Shamim Shawl and Kashmiri American leader Mr. Rizwan Kadir also shared their thoughts about the situation in J&K post August 2019.

Masood Khan thanked the panelist for their participation and sharing their valuable thoughts. In his concluding remarks, the Ambassador said that there was need for investing in communications to the United Nations, Permanent Members of the Security Council and also to the Indian political leadership and civil society members in India to create favorable public opinion.

He stressed upon the need for mediation and immediate dialogue between the stakeholders, the Ambassador also underscore the need for consensus building among powerful P-5 countries over the Kashmir issue.

Masood Khan also demanded immediate release of political prisoners including Mr. Yasin Malik, Shabbir Shah, Asiya Andrabi, Qasim Faktoo and Mussarrat Alam, and others.
Ends.